Mad Pride? Gay Pride? Identity…

16 Oct

I am working on writing my story for my intro to LGBT Studies class.  The story will be read by me (eek) on Nov 29th, so I have a bit of time. The main topic of the day is identity.  My story intertwines mental illness and sexuality so I thought it would best fit in that day.

I have mentioned on my blog in the past about mad pride and gay pride.  I’ve done a few posts on identity.  I mention on my about page and through out my blog about my sexuality and living with mental illness.  Yet, I’m not sure if I’ve ever talked about how they intertwine.

I’ve always wanted to “fit in” to be “normal” or sometimes just to blend in.  A fellow blogger wrote that most people spend their lives wanting to stand out and all I ever wanted to do was blend in.  That resonates with me. A lot.

I think part of it is not knowing where I belong.  Fitting in, being “normal,” even blending in give an image of being surrounded by people, even if blending in can imply just being surrounded by people in the physical sense.

I’ve had many aspects about me that cause me to stand out or at least be left out.  I was sick at a young age, missed a lot of school, and even took medicine at school.  I’ve always been smart which usually means being teased as well- except when you get to high school and everyone wants to be your friend so you can help them cheat 😉  I’ve dealt with mental illness from a young age as well; which has caused me to isolate and feel “different” and “alone.”  I never had many friends in elementary school, but figured out the social scene in junior high and high school.  I never had a boyfriend (or girlfriend for that matter) or even a crush throughout all my years of schooling.  I had a chaotic home life that only me and my sisters really knew about.

Everything about me was “different” why couldn’t I be “normal” or at least average: healthy, good student but not stand out, happy, lots of friends, a cute boyfriend, a normal family.

My mental illness has been the biggest struggle in my life.  It has been with me since I can remember (age 10) and is constant. Many days I spend just trying to survive and there is no room in my life for the normal things: maintaining friendships, a job, a degree, a romantic relationship, steady or regular attendance to anything except school most times.  Without the energy to maintain these normal things, I feel alone whether figuratively or physically.

I am not like most people.  I hear voices and have mood swings.  I fall into depressions that cause me to stay in bed for weeks. I’ve lost friends due to my lack of energy and motivation to keep contact.  I’ve also lost friends because many people don’t understand mental illness and don’t want to be around someone who deals with it.  I use to self harm and fear people leaving or judging me so I don’t get close to many people.  I’ve had over a dozen inpatient hospitalizations.  I feel an emptiness and loneliness I can’t even express.  And for years I hid my mental illness as best as I could, only recently have I been open with it and only to select audiences.

My struggle with accepting my sexuality is probably the second biggest thing in my life.  And sometimes I think it only takes 2nd because it only became an issue when I was 18 years old or because it is intertwined with the mental illness.  I’ve only had 3 intimate relationships in my life.  Like I mentioned earlier struggling with mental illness effects all areas of your life.   I wondered what was up with my friends having crushes and gushing about boys all day.  I also had no interest in sex, which was odd for a teenager.

I met my first girlfriend as a senior in high school, when I was deep in a depression and not attending school because of it.  We were friends at first and she was the daughter of a pastor.  I started attending church with her and finally felt like I found myth niche.  I helped teach Sunday school, went to church and bible study, and read my bible daily.  I found a new faith and the relationship was one of the few things that made me happy.   Months after the friendship we started a secret sexual relationship, she was my first love.  Long story short, her mom set us up and found out.  Her mom who did pastoral counseling for the church, began to counsel me and explain that I was sexually abused by my dad and that was the only reason I had these “un-natural” feelings.  She convinced me to move out, I didn’t speak with my family for 2 years, and I transferred to a private Christian university to try to get my life back on track.  I wasn’t allowed to spend time with my friend unless we were supervised, and try as I might to at least keep the friendship it didn’t work.  I was also engaged to a man during this time that I met on, 2nd relationship.  I don’t remember a lot of this time due to the trauma involved and the fact that I had ECT “shock therapy” treatments around this time.  The trauma related to the sexuality and the ECT related to my mental illness that was sucking the life out of me.

In 2005, I stopped attending the university and was still seeking counseling but this time with a licensed therapist through a Christian day program.  I had been seeing this therapist for about 3 years, mainly dealing with daily issues associated with my mental illness.  I told my ex-girlfriend that I was gay and she hasn’t spoken to me since.  I told me therapist and she told me I had 2 choices: be abstinent for the rest of my life or get with a guy and wait for the feeling to come.  I told my sister, who I have a very close relationship with, and she asked if I was sure and made some comments about “the gay lifestyle” and never being able to come back.  Considering I had only had 2 intimate relationships thus far, I wasn’t very confident and went back into my non-sexual questioning sort of state.  I did stop seeing that therapist.

I quickly after got a case manager after a string of hospitalizations.  My case manager would occasionally bring up the sexuality issue but I wouldn’t talk about it and change the subject.  Not surprising considering my last two experiences with the helping field.  About 2 years ago around the ex-girlfriends birthday and after a failed “sex- buddies” relationship with a guy, I started talking about my sexual feelings again.  My case manager helped me process those feeling and the trauma surrounding all that stuff.  It took about 3 months to just acknowledge the feeling and the damage that was done.  Another 6 months to get to the acceptance stage.  And in about a year I started attending an LGBT group downtown, where I learned about this class. While I know my sexuality is a part of me, I am only out to a few people.

Mental illness and sexuality in my life have had a lot in common.  They both have made me feel isolated, different, and alone. Both have been used to imply there is something “wrong” with me and try to shame me.  Both are things that few people know about, we talk about being “out” in the mental health realm.  Both have a bunch of stigma and stereotypes attached to them as well.  I have been told by people that I can will my way out of my mental illness and sexuality.  Both can also be taboo subjects that no one wants to talk about.

I’d love to hear feedback or thoughts…

7 Responses to “Mad Pride? Gay Pride? Identity…”

  1. prideinmadness October 15, 2013 at 5:59 PM #

    Sexuality and mental illness are both taboo and it wasn’t even that long ago that homosexuality was taken out of the DSM!

    What I love about Mad Pride, and why I identify as a Mad person, is the acceptance that comes with it. The fluidity of Madness and sexuality I think is beautiful.

    • mm172001 October 15, 2013 at 6:06 PM #

      Great point, also Gender Identity Disorder (aka trans) was just removed for the new DSM 5.

      I love the comment about madness and sexuality being fluid. I never thought about the madness that way… you’ll have my mind going all night now. 🙂

      • prideinmadness October 15, 2013 at 7:52 PM #

        The Mad movement and Mad Pride uses the term neurodiversity. It’s about acknowledging that all of our brains are different and they’re supposed to be that way. The same way we can have different skin colours, sexual orientations, gender identities and cultures!

  2. what if i gave it my all...? October 17, 2013 at 1:10 AM #

    i love this! i too have struggled with both mental illness and my sexuality, and i’m actually the daughter of an ordained minister in addition so i relate to the religious aspects. 🙂 i’m now out as bisexual in pretty much all regards (although, while my immediate family knows, my extended family does not). i participate in the LGBT student organization on campus, which does both informative and social events. i think it’s great that you’re starting to expose yourself to the LGBT community and the LGBT support resources out there. it is SO SO scary at first. but i promise you, at some point in the near future, you’ll realize that your chest feels a little bit lighter, and you have a bit more of a bounce in your step. it really makes a big difference. you start to learn who you really are, and open yourself up to true happiness and self-love.

    • mm172001 October 17, 2013 at 7:55 AM #

      Thanks so much for your kind comment! I’m working on it and my group is great. Not only do I attend the group regularly but have gotten together with some of the friends outside of group for social events and gay movie night.
      I appreciate the reassurance and you letting me know a little of yourself, it’s a positive example of what can be.

  3. mm172001 July 5, 2014 at 8:45 PM #

    Reblogged this on Marci, Mental Health, & More and commented:

    Featuring another one of my favorite posts I wrote… how my sexuality and mental illness have intertwined and what they have in common.


  1. Coming Out Again: Why More Queer Folks with Mental Illnesses Need to Speak Out | Marci, Mental Health, & More - February 8, 2015

    […] with a bunch of LGBT friends we were talking about “our stories” and I read that blog post. Since then I’ve had a number of people with mental health issues talk to me about their own […]

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